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An Open Letter to Hindu-Indian People — It is Time to place Ourselves on the Line for Palestine


By Meghana Nallajerla & Nikhil Dharmaraj

We write this letter in a time of deep, continued emergency — an open letter to our neighborhood, fellow dominant-caste Indian People of Hindu descent. As we communicate, there’s a genocide taking place on the bottom in Gaza, Palestine. Greater than 825 bloodlines have been wiped from the household registry, greater than 50% of houses have been flattened, the loss of life toll is greater than 11,500 (and rising) within the final month alone and a youngster is killed each 10 minutes. It’s a lot too late, and but essentially the most pressing and exactly proper second to have this dialog.

It’s the second to reply with the utmost urgency as a result of we’re witnessing a genocide, what Gazans are terming a “second Nakba.” As common actions have instructed us, “Mourn those that have handed and combat like hell for the dwelling.”

And but, we have now taken 75 lengthy years to reply this name to motion whereas Palestinians have been dwelling beneath occupation. 1948 marked al-Nakba (disaster) the place over 750,000 Palestinians had been forcibly expelled from their houses and ethnically cleansed, and 78% of the historic Palestine was annexed into the state of Israel. Since then, the Palestinian individuals have been topic to an onslaught of standard bombings, army checkpoints, a 16-year-old blockade on meals and electrical energy, and settler violence, all in violation of worldwide human rights regulation and UN mandates.

[Read Related: The Political Silence on Palestine]

We write this to our neighborhood as two Brahmin individuals of Hindu descent and as neighborhood organizers working in South Asian actions and actions in solidarity with Palestine. We point out nationality, caste, and religion positionality, right here as a result of we consider these identities process us with particular tasks to talk up at this second. We write to you hoping that addressing our neighborhood immediately will encourage extra of us to not solely communicate out, however present up in civil disobedience and direct motion in solidarity with Palestinian individuals. We’re additionally guided by the elemental perception that it’s the accountability of these of us who’ve privileged identities on this second to have this dialog with one another, whereas following the lead of Palestinian, Kashmiri, Indian Muslim, Dalit, Adivasi, Bahujan, and different marginalized organizers.

So — if you’re a seasoned supporter of the motion in solidarity with Palestine (of whom there are lots of in our neighborhood), in case you have been marching, talking up, screaming on the rooftops for Gaza — we’re grateful and impressed by you. Extra energy to you; we see you, we’re with you. In case you are new to this dialog, we invite you and we are saying, there’s nonetheless time to make a distinction. We’d like you. In case you are confused, questioning, or afraid, we ask that you just take a couple of minutes of your time to learn additional.

Over the previous few weeks, many people — led by Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, Kashmiri, working-class, Indo-Caribbean, and anti-Zionist Jewish organizations — have risen up in principled protest. We now have marched in D.C., signed petitions, referred to as our representatives, and spoken up in our social circles. But, a few of us have remained silent. Although there have been many new outpourings of help, a tradition of silence or neutrality nonetheless appears to be obvious amongst giant sections of our neighborhood. We’re particularly pondering right here of notable public figures akin to celebrities, who capitalize off of “illustration” politics and have beforehand spoken about anti-racism and superficial “decoloniality,” however haven’t raised their voices for Palestine. Whereas some South Asian celebrities have chosen to have fun Diwali on the White Home, we commend the principled stance of others who’ve opted to boycott presidential celebrations on this second of state-sponsored genocide as an alternative. As a neighborhood, our evaluation of white supremacy, privilege, and colonization can’t cease at “chai tea is tea-tea.” That is the pattern we search to interrupt, gently however firmly, on this writing. For many who have spoken out tentatively or fearfully, we hope we are able to embolden one another to unapologetically present up for Palestine, and empower one another to threat with our phrases and actions, what we maintain pricey, each ideologically and materially, within the identify of justice.

We do wish to observe that there’s a very actual — and credible — silencing of those that communicate out in favor of Palestine. College students have been doxxed and threatened with expulsion and retracted job affords. Others have been terminated from employment for merely talking out in help of a ceasefire and of Palestinian life. There are complete establishments that exist solely to focus on individuals — particularly Black, Indigenous, racialized, Muslim, and/or queer individuals — who communicate out in opposition to Israel. The USA additionally has a harmful Chilly-Warfare period historical past of McCarthyism, by which alleged communists had been extensively focused by the federal government resulting in job losses, social ostracization, and different penalties. The worry is actual.

Even between the 2 of us, we have now confronted common doxxing and harassment. However this swift and unrelenting censorship of so many voices exhibits us that the tide is popping, and establishments deeply invested in genocidal violence and suppression of fact know that they’re shedding. They search to wield worry — the final device they’ve — to silence us. Although they will goal one voice, they can not goal us all. The plenty of individuals worldwide — throughout race, nationality, faith, and many others. — are rising up in protest to demand a ceasefire.

There have been many people who’ve justified their silence by a declare that as neither Muslims nor Jews, we should “stay impartial.” Morally, this argument overlooks the truth that we don’t must be immediately impacted to name a spade a spade, and a genocide, a genocide. Extra particularly, as Indian People with caste privilege and of Hindu descent, we can’t be impartial, exactly as a result of our existence is inherently not impartial; our heritage intertwines us with the violence of occupation.

This brings us to the necessary and nuanced historical past of India’s relationship with Israel. India has maintained an more and more contradictory stance on the problem of Palestinian self-determination. In its early days, previous to Independence and proper after, India was favorable towards the Palestinian trigger, which some students have attributed to shared anti-colonial struggles and a want to keep up the coalition with the Non-Aligned Motion. For instance, Azad Essa, a journalist and professional creator, said that Indian independence leaders akin to Nehru and Gandhi “perceived Zionist settlers as brokers of the British state…so naturally they veered towards the Palestinians, [seeing the] Zionist challenge as inherently colonial.” That is in line with an Indian vote on the UNSCO rejecting the validity of the Balfour Declaration, India being considered one of 13 nations to vote in opposition to Israel’s entry into the United Nations, and Indian officers’ vote to sentence Zionism alongside racism.

Nonetheless, additionally it is necessary to notice that these positions haven’t at all times been real, given what scholar-activist Huma Dar has termed India’s duplicitous “forked tongue” technique of stating one factor and doing one other. As Dr. Essa states, “how [can] a rustic that positioned itself as anti-colonial, anti-apartheid, and a frontrunner of the Non-Aligned Motion may even have a colonial challenge of its personal?” For the reason that Jammu Pogrom in 1947 (a yr earlier than the horrific al-Nakba in Palestine), the Indian state, guided by supremacist ideologies that see Brahmins and different dominant-caste Hindus as the one “true” inheritors of the land, has occupied Kashmir — perpetrating over hundreds of instances of homicide, torture, and disappearance since. Akin to the Palestinian trigger, Kashmiris have been bravely agitating for self-determination and an finish to this colonial violence inside what’s the most militarized area on Earth, beneath the motion for Azaadi (Freedom).

In recent times, violence in opposition to Kashmiris has solely escalated and so has India’s collusion with Israel. Genocide Watch — an internationally respected group that issued an emergency alert for genocide in Palestine most just lately in October — additionally issued a genocide alert for Kashmir in 2019, following India’s abrogation of Article 370. India deployed the Israeli Pegasus surveillance spyware and adware on Kashmiri journalists and is at present the biggest importer of Israeli weapons — buying multiple billion {dollars} value of arms in 2022, now even co-producing weaponry in cities like Bengaluru and Malanpur. The 2 nations use shared frameworks of Islamophobia which have linked their respective intelligence businesses since 1968, sexual violence as a device of occupation in Kunan Poshpora and Safsaf, and the shutdowns of web infrastructure as cowl in Gaza and Kashmir (now in Manipur as nicely). Even on this urgent second, India is at present the biggest producer of digital misinformation about Palestine, producing memes and tweets with international attain.

We perceive that a lot of this data could also be tough to grapple with or ask us to query elementary beliefs we have now held or been taught for a lot of our lives. Being individuals of conviction means not trying away from tough truths, whether or not they’re taking place in Palestine or in Kashmir. Your entire historical past of this partnership and its origins are past the scope of this text, however we have now linked assets beneath immediately from Kashmiri students and activists that we encourage our neighborhood to be taught extra.

By asking these tough questions, we see that as Indian People of Hindu descent, we’re not impartial due to the violence achieved in our identify. Thus, we name on our neighborhood to make use of this second as an invite to direct motion — for all liberation actions across the globe. No enterprise as common at a time of genocide. According to the calls being put forth by Palestinian organizers, sit-ins, blockades, and strikes are the decision of the hour. Courageous activists have been rising to this name — as we noticed within the Block The Boat Motion on the Port of Oakland; the mass sit-ins of Jewish protesters at Grand Central Station and Congress; and the shutdown of Elbit Methods’ workplace in Boston.

[Read Related: Gaza and the Power of Social Media]

There’s a highly effective historical past of direct actions and civil disobedience in South Asian motion histories. Most just lately, it has been utilized by brave transgender activists preventing for Horizontal Reservations in states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu; farmers and laborers in Punjab demanding a repeal of oppressive legal guidelines; and now, pro-Palestine crowds flooding the streets of main cities throughout India. We lean on this historical past and say, it’s time to put ourselves on the road for Palestine. Till an entire ceasefire is achieved; till the illegal Israeli occupation and US support to it ends; till Palestinians can reside with dignity and freedom. We are saying “Free Palestine” with our full chest.  

Listed below are a number of the some ways to indicate up in direct motion for Palestine: 

  1. OCCUPY: Be a part of your native Palestinian-led group — akin to Arab Useful resource & Organizing Middle (AROC), Palestinian Youth Motion (PYM) or College students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — or your native chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Reply their calls to motion and be prepared to take dangers.
  2. BOYCOTT: Hearken to the calls of the Boycott, Divest, & Sanctions (BDS) Motion calling for an official focused boycott of corporations complicit in Israeli apartheid.
  3. DIVEST: Staff in Palestine have launched this extremely helpful information for tracing institutional ties to Zionism and organizing for divestment as a method. Agitate to finish these complicities in your sphere of affect.
  4. CALL, WRITE, AND PRESSURE YOUR REPRESENTATIVES: Because the genocide continues, individuals are rising weary. We should not let up on our strain (US Marketing campaign for Palestinian Rights). 
  5. Maintain listening to and amplifying Palestinian voices and calls to motion. Listed below are a couple of:

Even within the face of worry, we’re reminded of the dire have to preserve pushing in opposition to repression, consistent with the unrelenting braveness of the Palestinian individuals. Whether or not we seem like the oppressed or the oppressors, allow us to stand on the precise facet of historical past to cease an ongoing genocide unfolding in entrance of our eyes. 

Now’s the time to place ourselves on the road for Palestine. We are saying: Free Palestine, Free Kashmir. Ceasefire Now. Finish the occupations. Be a part of us!

Sources to study Kashmir:

This text has been written by Meghana Nallajerla in collaboration with Nikhil Dharmaraj.

Meghana (she/her) is a Telugu neighborhood organizer and researcher from the deep South. Her work lies on the intersection of trauma-informed therapeutic and movement-building. Meghana has labored in progressive South Asian organizing for the previous decade, and her previous writing has built-in analysis and motion work for varied audiences.

Nikhil Dharmaraj is an rising graduate researcher, inventive, and aspiring confederate/organizer. Nikhil’s work explores the intersection of expertise and energy, notably alongside the strains of race, caste, gender, class, and nationwide identification.

The opinions expressed by the author of this piece, and people offering feedback thereon (collectively, the “Writers”), are theirs alone and don’t essentially replicate the opinions of Brown Lady Journal, Inc., or any of its workers, administrators, officers, associates, or assigns (collectively, “BGM”). BGM isn’t accountable for the accuracy of any of the knowledge equipped by the Writers. It’s not the intention of Brown Lady Journal to malign any faith, ethnic group, membership, group, firm, or particular person. You probably have a grievance about this content material, please electronic mail us at good This publish is topic to our Phrases of Use and Privateness Coverage. In the event you’d prefer to submit a visitor publish, please comply with the rules we’ve set forth right here.

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Born out of the dearth of minority illustration in mainstream media, Brown Lady Journal was created by and for South … Learn extra ›

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit

The next open letter is written by Hindus for Human Rights, a company advocating for pluralism, civil and human rights in South Asia and North America, rooted within the values of Hindu religion: shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (fact). They supply a Hindu voice of resistance to caste, Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), racism, and all types of bigotry and oppression.

Pricey President Biden,

As Indian-People, human rights organizations, and anxious allies, we’re writing to induce you to have interaction publicly and meaningfully to push again in opposition to the Indian authorities’s escalating assaults on human rights and democracy, particularly forward of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state go to to the US.

Regardless of goal proof that India’s democracy is beneath crucial assault, you haven’t spoken out about this disaster. In early 2023, Indian authorities carried out retaliatory raids on the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai workplaces for releasing a documentary about Prime Minister Modi. The week earlier than the Summit for Democracy, the Indian authorities made three successive assaults on Indian democracy. First, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Social gathering expelled Rahul Gandhi from Parliament. Second, the Indian authorities shut the web down in Punjab, severely impacting the rights for Sikhs to peacefully set up and protest. And third, the Indian Supreme Court docket dominated that Indians may be discovered responsible by affiliation for terrorism. And but, not one consultant from the Biden Administration stated something about even considered one of these developments. As a substitute, whereas Islamophobic violence gripped India in late March, you invited Prime Minister Modi to talk on the Summit for Democracy. Mr. Modi visits DC at a time when the state of Manipur has skilled heavy communal and anti-Christian violence after Modi’s ruling get together pushed an initiative to undermine Indigenous rights within the state.

Even when confronted with questions by Indian reporters about human rights in India, your administration has solely had personal two-way conversations about how each of our governments can at all times enhance. Fairly frankly, we discover it unacceptable to see such equivocation on Indian democracy from an administration that has been strident in its protection of American democracy and the rule of regulation. 

India is among the quickest autocratizing nations on the planet, largely due to the present authorities. Freedom Home has rated India as a “partly-free” nation for the previous three years, and has blamed Prime Minister Modi’s authorities for an increase in discriminatory insurance policies, together with persecution in opposition to Muslims and caste-based violence in opposition to Dalit and Adivasi communities; harassment of civil society, protestors, academia and the media, and the concentrating on of political opponents. It has additionally rated Indian-administered Kashmir as “not free,” citing violations of human, civil, and political rights after the Modi authorities revoked the territory’s autonomous standing. In Reporters With out Borders press freedom rating, India has dropped to 161 out of 180 nations in 2023. India has appeared within the Committee to Shield Journalists’ Impunity Indexwhich examines accountability for unsolved journalists’ murders — yearly for the previous 15 years and at present ranks in eleventh place worldwide. Based on PEN America’s Freedom to Write Index, in 2022, India was one of many high 10 nations that jailed writers globally. The Types of Democracy Institute characterizes India as an “electoral autocracy” and blames India’s descent into autocracy on Prime Minister Modi. And the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has stated India has been one of many high 15 nations in danger for a mass atrocity occasion yearly since 2017, which displays the toxicity of Indian politics beneath Modi. 

Given the magnitude of this disaster, we ask you to have interaction immediately with Indian-American and human rights civil society leaders to discover options to handle India’s human rights disaster. We additionally ask you to make use of the instruments at your disposal to make sure that the Indian authorities can’t assault Indians’ human rights with impunity. Because the 2022 Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor report particulars, a number of authorities people have dedicated human rights violations that, beneath U.S. regulation, would qualify them to be sanctioned beneath the World Magnitsky Act. Indian safety forces which have engaged in human rights violations ought to have safety help rescinded, beneath the International Help Act of 1961. 

Lastly, we urge you to publicly name on the Indian authorities to honor its commitments to human rights, together with calling on Prime Minister Modi and his cupboard to halt using anti-terror legal guidelines to arbitrarily detain political critics. You’ll be able to publicly denounce the rising numbers of political prisoners and the weaponization of the rule of regulation in India to close down criticism. Even if you’re not prepared to personally criticize the Prime Minister, you might have ample alternative to criticize the Indian authorities’s misuse of public belief and public establishments to consolidate energy and undermine the need of the Indian individuals.

As President of the US of America, you maintain a singular place to steer the combat in opposition to authoritarianism. Prime Minister Modi will hearken to you while you communicate. However he and his allies will solely change in the event you take a stand publicly. We urge you to hearken to these of us who care about India and be certain that one man can’t steal the futures and the rights of our family members in India.

— Signed by numerous organizations and people main the cost (linked right here).

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Yearly on August fifth, the Sikh American neighborhood remembers considered one of our neighborhood’s most devastating tragedies in latest reminiscence — the Oak Creek bloodbath. On this present day in 2012, a white supremacist gunman entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, a gurdwara (Sikh home of worship) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin the place he shot and killed six worshippers and severely injured others. This violent assault was the deadliest mass taking pictures concentrating on Sikh People in U.S. historical past, and on the time, was one of many worst assaults on a U.S. home of worship in many years. Six worshippers — Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suveg Singh Khattra, and Satwant Singh Kaleka — had been killed on that horrific day. A further neighborhood member, Baba Punjab Singh, was severely paralyzed and in the end handed away from problems associated to his accidents in 2020. Others, together with Bhai Santokh Singh and responding police officer and hero, Lt. Brian Murphy, had been severely wounded in the course of the taking pictures. 

[Read Related: Oak Creek Gurdwara Massacre’s 4th Anniversary: Young Sikhs Express Optimism for the Continued Struggle Against Hate and Ignorance]

In 2022, the neighborhood got here collectively to display that we’re undaunted. My group, the Sikh American Authorized Protection and Training Fund (SALDEF) joined in supporting the anniversary observance at Oak Creek: a remembrance occasion centered across the theme of “Heal, Unite, Act.” The Oak Creek Sikh neighborhood hosted a collection of in-person occasions, together with the tenth Annual Oak Creek Sikh Memorial Anniversary Candlelight Remembrance Vigil on Friday, August 5, 2022. This system included a consultant from the White Home, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Oak Creek Mayor Dan Bukiewicz, and representatives of the households who misplaced family members. Being there in Oak Creek 10 years after the tragedy was deeply significant — each to see the inspiring resilience of this neighborhood and to recollect how a lot stays to be achieved.

In D.C., SALDEF continues to combat for insurance policies that enhance the lives of Sikh People. I had the distinction of chairing the newest iteration of the Religion-Based mostly Safety Advisory Council on the Division of Homeland Safety, offering suggestions on the request of Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. Consequently, the three subcommittees revealed a report that emphasised the significance of higher accessibility, higher fairness, and higher transparency in counterterrorism efforts that for too lengthy revolved round surveilling populations just like the one which was senselessly attacked on the Oak Creek gurdwara in 2012. Main the FBSAC as a Sikh girl, and representing a neighborhood that was extremely focused alongside Muslims by each white supremacists and in post-9/11 counterterrorism profiling, was a chance to push the Council to advocate extra fiercely for additional information-sharing between communities and regulation enforcement, extending grant alternatives for safety for Gurdwaras and different homes of worship, and constructing belief between the federal government and Sikh communities. As well as, I advocated for accountability for the injury needlessly brought on to Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Hindu (MASSAH) communities by federal businesses traditionally pursuing “counterterrorism” goals which has resulted in eroded belief somewhat than the event of robust partnerships. 

Though we have now made nice strides on this nation, there’s nonetheless extra to do. By way of our work we have now partnered with many throughout the nation to come back collectively and discover options via tenets central to Sikhism and America — unity, love, and equality. SALDEF continues to strongly endorse the coverage framework articulated throughout the Home Terrorism Prevention Act (H.R. 350 / S. 963); Justice for Victims of Hate Crimes Act; and the Nonprofit Safety Grant Program (NSGP) Enchancment Act (H.R. 6825). We consider strongly in mandating federal businesses to create devoted workplaces to research home terrorism; permitting prosecutors to feasibly indict perpetrators of hate crimes; and permitting non secular nonprofits to entry federal funding to boost their very own safety.

[Read Related: Anti-Sikh Hate is on the Rise: Here’s What we can Do]

Whereas 11 years have handed, the results of the Oak Creek taking pictures are by no means removed from the minds of Sikh American advocates and the neighborhood we serve. SALDEF is not going to cease taking a stand in opposition to mindless violence and hate crimes. We proceed to work in unity with our neighborhood and motion companions, and combat for higher insurance policies that may actively preserve all of our communities protected. By way of tragedy, we discover hope. We all know there generally is a world the place individuals from all backgrounds and cultures can follow their religion freely and, regardless that it has eluded the Sikh American neighborhood previously, we nonetheless consider this world is feasible.

Picture Courtesy of Amrita Kular

The opinions expressed by the author of this piece, and people offering feedback thereon (collectively, the “Writers”), are theirs alone and don’t essentially replicate the opinions of Brown Lady Journal, Inc., or any of its workers, administrators, officers, associates, or assigns (collectively, “BGM”). BGM isn’t accountable for the accuracy of any of the knowledge equipped by the Writers. It’s not the intention of Brown Lady Journal to malign any faith, ethnic group, membership, group, firm, or particular person. You probably have a grievance about this content material, please electronic mail us at This publish is topic to our Phrases of Use and Privateness Coverage. In the event you’d prefer to submit a visitor publish, please comply with the rules we’ve set forth right here.

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Kiran Kaur Gill is an completed skilled with exemplary government expertise. In her position as Government Director, she is accountable … Learn extra ›



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